Thoreau was a Transcendentalist writer who believed that the world “lives too fast” (407) and that it is becoming overly complex. He believed that as our lives become more complicated we miss the “whole and genuine meanness of it [life]” (406).
He thought that the “The nation itself, with all its so-called internal improvements, which, by the way, are all are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless expense, by want of calculation and a worthy aim” (407) and that the only solution to this problem was “a rigid economy, a stern and more than Spartan simplicity of life and elevation of purpose” (407). Thoreau also believed in simplicity in government, that the best government would be one “which governs not at all” (412).
I agree with Thoreau’s belief in living simply but I don’t think that living as simply as he desires is practical in today’s world. I disagree with his belief that “government is best which governs not at all” (412) because I think that government is necessary because man is inherently evil and needs to be under authority. I agree with Thoreau’s belief in living simply because I think that it is biblical. In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul says “”For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul is saying that no matter what the circumstances he is able to remain content and trust God, meaning that he isn’t driven by material things and possessions. In the Bible you don’t see Godly men aiming for material possessions, success, or for what is fun; instead you see them doing God’s work and often living simply in the process.
Another reason why I agree with Thoreau’s philosophy on living simply is because living simply allows you to do what you really care about to the best of your ability. If you are going to live simply you have to identify your priorities and really think about what you will do in your life, because anything you don’t think is worth the time or is unnecessary you shouldn’t be doing at all. Although I agree with Thoreau’s view on living simply I don’t think that it is practical in today’s world. I think that in order to accomplish much of anything you have to use technology that complicates your life. You cannot avoid complicating you life to some extent if you intend to make an impact.
Another reason why I don’t think this is possible in today’s world is because there really aren’t many places you can really live simply because you either have to go to school or work and you can’t do as Thoreau says we should do. I disagree with Thoreau’s view on government because man is totally depraved and needs to be authority to help prevent chaos. In Romans 13:1 it says “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” As long as the government is biblically based I believe it is good and necessary, even if it does get in the way of other good things or cause additional cost. Although I think we need a government, I think it should be careful not to govern too much over unnecessary things as that just wastes time and money. Overall, I think that Thoreau’s belief in living simply is biblical and right, even if he didn’t intend it to be when he decided he was going to live simply. I disagree with his belief that the best government is one that doesn’t govern because man is inherently evil and needs the guidance that a biblical government can give, otherwise sin would have an even more prevalent role in our lives.
Thoreau, Henry D. Walden. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1904. Print.
The Holy Bible. KJV.